Governor Mills Announces $1.6M Grant Program to Expand Medical Provider Training in Rural Maine
Governor Janet Mills announced that she is providing up to $1.6 million through her Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to expand opportunities for training health care professionals and medical providers in rural communities, further strengthening Maine’s health care workforce.
The initiative offers funding to support the expansion or development of new medical residency programs in underserved areas for new physicians. It also will support clinical training opportunities for students enrolled in an accredited healthcare profession educational or training program, including but not limited to nursing (RN, LPN, APRN), Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), behavioral health (LCSW, LADC) professionals, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, physician assistants, emergency medical services, (AEMT, Paramedic), and dentistry. The funding incentivizes the expansion of clinical sites by providing direct funding to pay qualified clinical supervisors and by providing other supports such as housing for students while they complete their clinical rotations. The Expansion of Rural Clinical Preceptorships and Rural Graduate Medical Education Program awards grants of up to $650,000 for proposals to attract and support clinical supervisors, known as preceptors, in rural practices and up to $950,000 to support new or expanded graduate medical education programs. This helps fill an important gap: Maine ranks among the lowest states in terms of graduate medical education opportunities.
“Ensuring that every person in Maine can access high-quality health care, no matter where they live in our state, is critical to their wellbeing and to our economy as a whole,” said Governor Mills. “By training more health care professionals in rural parts of our state, this initiative will strengthen our health care workforce and support families who need health care close to home.”
“This initiative from the Governor’s Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan will expand training for doctors and other health professionals in rural communities, encouraging these aspiring health care workers to launch rewarding careers in Down East, northern, and western Maine,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “Supporting the pipeline of medical providers in areas where they’re needed most strengthens Maine’s health care workforce for patients throughout the state.”
“With the ongoing demands on the health care system, clinical preceptors and residency programs have struggled to support students and physicians, particularly in rural and underserved populations,” said Jennifer Gunderman, Director of the Maine Area Health Education Center at the University of New England. “At UNE, our medical and other health professions students have experienced these challenges firsthand. This funding will bolster academic programs, clinical sites, the health care workforce, and ultimately, the health of Mainers by recognizing and supporting clinical preceptors and residency programs in the most underserved regions of the state.”
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Maine’s health care workforce, the state has long been challenged to recruit and train needed clinical staff,” said Jeffrey Barkin, M.D., President of the Maine Medical Association. “Maine has unique challenges to safely meet its diverse and complex health care needs, including its oldest in the nation population and large rural areas. The Governor’s plan goes a long way toward building a robust health care workforce with the right clinical training and experience in order to maintain both access to and quality of health care for all Mainers.”
“We applaud Governor Mills’ ongoing commitment to finding innovative ways to address the myriad challenges facing Maine’s health care workforce,” said Darcy Shargo, CEO of the Maine Primary Care Association. “By investing in rural clinical preceptorships and graduate medical education programs, we will be better preparing our workforce to care for rural and underserved communities across the state—including within the many rural areas of Maine that community health centers serve.”
“Maine hospitals are thankful and supportive of the Governor’s initiative to expand our rural health care workforce,” said Steven Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association. “This program is a critical component of the all-hands-on-deck approach required to solving the shortages of key caregivers.”
DHHS is accepting applications for the grant program through October 11, 2022 from health care organizations that host students and preceptors. The number and size of awards will depend on the number of proposals received and available funds. To view the Request for Applications and more information, visit the Maine Division of Procurement Services website.
Recognizing the need to address the workforce challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Mills included $20 million in the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to support health care workforce training. This includes scholarships and student loan relief to enable more people to become behavioral health specialists, long term support workers, emergency medical services staff, and other health professionals. The Jobs Plan additionally supports marketing campaigns aimed at promoting health care careers in Maine and Healthcare Training for ME, a program to expand the availability of free and low-cost career training to help health care workers advance their careers, support workforce training needs of health care employers, and attract new workers to fast-growing fields.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity. It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.